4 August: Mist
It is the fourth day of the expedition. The RV Professor Molchanov has already got over 648 sea miles. The expedition’s route runs across the Karskye Vorota Strait in the direction of Vaygach Island where the next landing will take place. But it will be in the evening and the morning is dedicated to the educational program. There were three lectures in our timetable. Before the landing Natalya Byzova gave us the information about geographical characteristics of Vaygach Island. Elena Churakova, the head of the chair of botany and general ecology in the Institute of Natural Science and Biomedicine, told about the Arctic flora. Ivan Saveliev organized a journey through time and told us about the Second World War in the Arctic. Except lectures the students and department supervisors continued their scientific research.
Alexandr Korytov, a fifth grade student of the Institute of Shipbuilding and Arctic Marine Engineering has twice distinguished himself in this expedition: first of all, his research supervisor has stayed in Severodvinsk and also Alexandr is the only representative of the shipbuilding department.
What does the morning of the future mechanic start with? He wakes up, has breakfast and goes to take measurements of the main support bearing. In this expedition he needs to study the vibration of the vessel’s gears: shaft bearings, support bearing, beam and stern bearings, main support bearing, etc.
- In that way I can examine the operating conditions of gears to find out the excess of sanitary requirements for the vibration level, - says Alexandr. – Then I will also take noise level measurements in different cabins of the vessel. My next task is to analyze exhaust fumes of the engine. I wonder how clean they are and what the efficiency of the diesel engine is. Using these methods we can define the level of gears wear.
It is interesting and important that when you use an electric mains operated laptop to take measurements and the current makes a lot of noises. That’s why I should charge it every time before starting my work.
- To find out the evolution of gears operating conditions and their wear I should compare them with the results of the previous expeditions. If our vessel gets into the ice conditions, I will take all measurements again because in this situation the engine load increases.
Today the ice and the mist were not expected, but when the vessel approached Vaygach Island, the latter muffled up the vessel as if it wanted to give us a day off. The RV Professor Molchanov cast anchor, the landing was carried over, and the vessel took a nap.
But it is just the impression. The life, or rather the work, is really zipping along onboard. The botanists are sorting samples taken yesterday on Kolguyev Island.
- Now I am herborizing plants, - says Maxim Korotaev, a second grade student of the Institute of Natural Science and Biomedicine. – In the sequel collected data and samples will be used for scientific purposes. To a certain extent we enrich and update knowledge about this territory got previously. We list plants found in the specified area and watch over their absence or presence, the deep penetration of new species into the Arctic or their fixed position in their usual area. The herbarium can also be used for educational purposes.
Besides herborizing one of Maxim’s tasks is the classification of plants collected during the landing. Some plants are very familiar and we are able to identify their species at a glance. Sometimes only the genus of a plant can be defined. Then young scientists cut dried samples, make some preparations and identify plants species according to special characteristics.
During the field-work our actions are always the same: we reach the position, make the geobotanical description, sample soils, collect mollusks, if any, and sample plants. - says Maxim.
So, the main load is borne on the shoulders of the botanists working in the lab.
While waiting for mist dispersing, the expedition is preparing for the landing. Vaygach is a polar bear land, that’s why a film about these beautiful and at the same time dangerous animals has come in useful. Although the expedition will have a professional ranger escort during the landing, each should know what to expect from the predator and how to act as we meet the lord of the Arctic.